It is very well quoted by Doug Scott, “Evidence doesn’t lie. History may be accurate, but archaeology is precise.” One man in today’s world who proves this quote accurate is K. K. Muhammed, the famous archaeologist of India.
Born on 1st July 1952, in Calicut, Kerala in a middle –class family to Beeran Kutty Haji and Mariyam, Karingamannu Kuzhiyil Muhammed is 2nd amongst the 5 siblings. Right from his childhood K Muhammed was interested in history. Such was his interest that after completing his schooling from Government Higher Secondary School, Koduvally, K Muhammed studied for his Masters in History from Aligarh Muslim University. Then from Archaeological Survey of India, New Delhi he completed his Post Graduate Diploma in Archaeology.
K Muhammed knew that archaeology in particular is not respected in India and no one aspires to be an archaeologist other than earning a respected government job with no work. But K Muhammed’s perspective towards unearthed truths was completely different. He knew from the beginning that this nations has many more archeological discoveries to find. This aspiration of his lead him from starting as a Technical Assistant and then as Assistant Archaeologist in the department of History at Aligarh Muslim University to serving as Regional Director (North) from Archaeological Survey of India and then retiring in 2012. During this period, he also served as a tour guide to historic monuments for prominent foreign guests such as Pervez Musharraf and Barack Obama.
During his tenure, he was involved in many major archaeological discoveries from excavation of Ibadat Khana, the structure where Akbar the Great proclaimed the formation of Composite religion known as Din-e Ilahi (Nursery of Indian Secularism) to discovery of the first Christian Chapel of North India built by Akbar at Fatehpur Sikri. His other findings include Buddhist Stupa of Kesaria built by Emperor Ashoka, Discovery and excavation of Buddhist Stupa in Rajgir, excavation of the Buddhist archaeological site in Kolhua, Vaishali and many more.
Dantewada district near Jagdalpur, Chhattisgarh is a naxalite area. This area host the Barsoor and Samlur Temples of Lord Shiva of whom K Muhammed is a great devotee. In order to conserve the temples to their original state, in 2003 K Muhammed went to a great length of talking with naxalite. He even convinced them to co-operate in preserving the temples. Now these temples are regularly worshipped by locals and are in a healthy condition.
Similarly, 40 km away from Gwalior in Bateshwar, Morena there are around 200 ancient Shiva & Vishnu temples. Built in 9th and 11th century, 200 years before Khajuraho during the Gurjara Pratihara Dynasty, this area was under the control of dacoit Nirbhay Singh Gujjar. Once again K Muhammed was able to convince the dacoits of preserving the temples. During his tenure, he was able to restore 60 such temples. For 2010 Commonwealth Games, he did major face lifting activity of 46 monuments in Delhi.
Apart from his archaeological work, K K Muhammed conceived and executed the idea of building Replica Museum or Children Museum outside the Siri Fort Sports Complex, behind Siri Fort Auditorium in Delhi. This museum contains the replicas of statues and stone carved sculptures across India.
Though born and brought up as a Muslim, K K Muhammed holds all religion equal. He is an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva and had put his life on stakes to preserves his legacy. K Muhammed wrote his biography in Malayalam language, Njan Enna Bharatiyan (“I an Indian”) in 2016. It garnered lot of attention due to his statement of claiming the remnants of Hindu temple at Babri Masjid site in 1976-77. He was threatened for giving such a statement by members of community. But his resolved stood the test of time and even today he says, ““An archaeologist speaks on the basis of verifiable things. At the time of Ayodhya excavations, I was part of the group and we found remnants of temple over there.” For being truer to his profession and rising above the ridiculous religious challenges one faces in India, K K Muhammed in 2019 January was conferred with Padma Shri. A man who has unearthed Hindu Shiva and Vishnu’s temples, verified remnants of Ram temple in the most risky debate of this nation, one who has unearthed a Christine Chapel, many Buddhist stupas, and even Ibadat Khana, believes that religion should be kept behind, when one is ardently following his or her profession, especially when the profession is about history. After all, archaeological surveys are logical surveys and needs to be seen from the perspective of civilizations path rather than from sentimentalist path of religion. As Doug Scott accurately said, “Evidence doesn’t lie. History may be accurate, but archaeology is precise.”
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